While state flattens COVID-19 curve, Baton Rouge lags behind

Updated: Jan. 25, 2021 at 6:26 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The number of Louisianans hospitalized with COVID-19 has fallen 17 percent since Jan. 10, according to data from the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), but Baton Rouge lags behind.

Hospitalizations, the key statistic that explains the state’s progress in its fight against the Coronavirus, are nearing pre-Christmas levels. Doctors say this is evidence that the state’s third case surge is ending.

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“I don’t think it’s going away, but I think that surge is definitely on its way in the right direction,” Trisha Guidry, Baton Rouge General’s chief operating officer at the mid-city campus, tells WAFB.

Some regions have seen improvements between 30 and 40 percent, but hospitalizations in Baton Rouge have actually increased by three percent in the last two weeks.

The seven-patient increase indicates a plateau, rather than a decline, in the capital region. Baton Rouge is the state’s medical region with a higher count of hospitalized COVID patients than the count on Jan. 10.

Doctors and nurses note that more patients are hospitalized with other illnesses than during the first two surges, further straining health care workers.

“We’re seeing people leave the hospital a lot quicker, but what’s happening is because we’ve seen just a huge surge in positive cases throughout the community, we’re seeing more people seeking out hospital care as well. We’re turning people over a lot quicker, but they’re coming in as soon as we’re discharging them,” Guidry said.

Doctors say Baton Rouge may lag behind the rest of the state because the third surge was worse in the capital region. Guidry noted that capital region hospitals are also still accepting the sickest patients from small, overwhelmed hospitals in rural areas.

“When we saw the numbers start to rise, the response was, ‘Oh, gosh, here we go again. I don’t know if we can do it again.’” Baton Rouge General nurse Angie Clouatre said. “But you have to. You have to come to work every day.”

Now, she and other nurses are again asking Baton Rouge residents to help slow the spread by washing their hands and wearing a mask.

“Help us help you by staying safe and doing what you need to keep out of the hospital.”

As of Jan. 25, 214 people are in Baton Rouge area hospitals with the coronavirus.

WAFB’s Matt Houston will have a full report on this story on 9News at 4, 5, and 6.

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